Stamford College Old Boys are through to the final of the NLD Vase after beating Bingham
Stamford College secured their place in the final of the NLD Vase after a hard-fought 24-0 victory at Bingham in Saturday’s last four clash.
It was by no means an easy passage into the April final for Old Boys against a Bingham side who ply their trade in the merit leagues.
The hosts were not there just to make up the numbers and, as they kicked off, immediately applied the pressure onto the visitors.
College probably endured their worst share of possession for a half all season as Bingham carried with intent.
Some expert defending throughout the whole College side saw the home team unable to put that possession into points.
College also kept the penalty count down around the breakdown to keep the game fast paced and flowing.
Even when a turnover was forced Old Boys only had the option of clearing their lines as Bingham kept that pressure up for the entire half, throwing big ball carriers down the throats of the College players.
When an overlap was worked, Bingham thought they had a look in but Houston stepped up and provided an excellent covering tackle to keep the home side out.
It was again to be Houston making another two decisive tackles on the wing to stop the home side from crossing and keeping the score level.
When Stamford College did have the ball they looked dangerous with strong direct running from the second row engine room that was Darlington and Walker, with Smith and Twose in tow, however, they were unable to find that killer blow.
Despite those magical moments, the College were struggling to keep possession for long enough to establish their well-worked game plan.
By this point Bingham were throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at their opponents, however, with 40 minutes on the clock, they also couldn’t find a way over the line.
During half-time the substitutes were warmed up and ready for action. Alex Walker - who took a knock in the first half - made way for Steele in the second row and a double replacement in the front row saw Heath and Duncan leave the field to be replaced by Carl Walker and Harker.
Kicking off the second half the College knew they had to step up in attack and immediately the visitors set into their game plan, phase by phase as they jostled for field position.
It was slow work due to the heavy swamp-like pitch underfoot but it was valuable possession that the College had and all that keep-ball eventually paid dividends.
Noticing the Bingham forwards had been sucked into the ruck, Johns spotted a distinct overlap on the blind-side and, with the aid of an inch-perfect pass from Gamble. he was able to cut a hole straight through the defenders for the first score of the afternoon.
Johns was unable to add the extra points on offer to leave the score at 0-5.
This fuelled the Bingham fire and, with cheers of support from the full touchline, they were after a quick response, however, it was the College who stepped up a gear.
In setpieces, both line-out and scrummaging, they were becoming more dominant and with some Bingham players taking knocks in the pack, when substituted, the new additions really cast confusion into the home team’s line-out who were really struggling to win a ball against the likes of Smith and Darlington.
After a long spell of possession and territory, Bingham were forced into giving a penalty away as College opted for the scrum.
It was safely won and, at Fraser’s feet, he bundled through a couple of tackles for the second score of the game. Much like the first score, Johns wasn’t able to convert the extra points to leave the score at 0-10.
At this point College decided to empty the bench and bring on Birks for Strydom who had put a shift in on the wing during the first half.
With a comfortable two score margin the pressure on College lessened and the backs were able to play a more expansive confident style of rugby which was apparent for the third try.
With nothing seemingly playable, Johns nudged a 50-50 crossfield kick which nestled down inches from the corner flag.
An error from the Bingham winger saw Twose come and strip him of the ball and he was able to score an almost too easy try.
After two missed conversions it was clear to see Johns was now finding his range with the boot as he watched his kick sail over the posts and his side sail into a commanding 0-17 lead.
With the score slipping away from the hosts, they changed routine to a more scrappy game plan in an attempt to rile the College into committing misdemeanors.
However, the visitors were only interested in playing great attacking rugby which was just what they did when they secured their fourth try.
After commanding a great amount of possession and the field position right on the five-metre line under the Bingham posts, it was to be another pick-and-go from the back of the scrum.
Fraser was brought down before he could claim another try, but the ball was kept within the forwards and recycled through a few phases before Carl Walker was able to bundle through a tackle and over the line. An easier conversion was successfully completed by Johns and College led 0-24.
With a few moments left to play, Bingham showed the type of attacking that they were capable of in the first half.
However, similarly to the first half, the College defence remained strong. They were able to force the turnover and kick the ball into touch to round off a real tale of two halves.
It was an excellent win against tough opposition and College will now be looking to transfer those winning ways back to the league campaign as they travel down to Kempston this weekend in a bid to keep within touching distance of the top teams.
College: S Pickerill, S Duncan, T Heath, A Walker, C Darlington, D Smith, J Twose, C Fraser, S Gamble, H Johns, S Durman, T Rodrigues, T Houston, J Strydom, L Greenslade. Subs: R Morgan, C Walker, M Harker, C Steele, T Birks.
More by this authorJames Bedford